Israeli celebrity rabbi suspected of bribing police officer

(JTA) — Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, a well-known Israeli rabbi, reportedly has been arrested and released on bail for allegedly attempting to bribe a high-ranking police officer.

NRG, the news site of the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, reported that Pinto had been arrested in a sting operation, while delivering on Thursday approximately $25,000 to Efraim Bracha, a deputy police commissioner and himself a certified rabbi. 

The report said that Pinto is suspected of trying to buy information about an unspecified police investigation into his own actions. He and his wife were released on bail late on Thursday, the news site reported. Pinto’s lawyer is quoted as saying the rabbi had done “nothing wrong.”

A former aide to Pinto, Ofer Biton, was jailed last month in the U.S. over immigration violations. Federal officials have reportedly been scrutinizing Biton’s fundraising activities for a U.S. congressman, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.). Biton had a falling out with Pinto, whose supporters have accused Biton of embezzling funds from Pinto’s organizations.

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